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Infant Car Seat Vs Convertible Seats For Children

Renee Whitmore
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by Renee Whitmore

Before you have a new baby, one of the most important decisions you will make is what type of car seat to buy. With a plethora of options and information out there, new parents may feel overwhelmed and confused as to which car seat is the best choice to keep their little one as safe as possible.

Infant seats and convertible seats are both great options—with no right or wrong answer about which one is best. The right answer is the one that is best for you and your family. Let’s take a look at each car seat in detail so you can make the best decision possible.

In a Nutshell : Infant Car Seat vs Convertible Seats

  • Infant car seats can be a better fit for some cars since convertible car seats are typically bigger
  • Infant car seats often feature specific comfort and safety features specific to infants that are above and beyond what convertible car seats offer
  • Convertible car seats offer a big advantage when it comes to overall car seat cost and longevity since their usage can grow with your child
  • Convertible car seats are a more full-time attachment to your vehicle, while infant car seats typically have a base that stays with your car and a carrier that the child stays in that you can remove from the base
  • Convertible car seats also differ from infant seats as they can convert from rear-facing for the early years to forward-facing as your child grows bigger

Infant Car Seats

Like the name says, infant car seats are made specifically for infants. Infant car seats generally come with a base and a carrier. The carrier easily snaps into the base of the car seat.

Infant car seats face the rear of the car and can be used until the baby reaches the seat’s height and weight limit, which is usually around 22 to 35 pounds and when the child’s head reaches the top of the car seat. After the child outgrows the infant car seat, you will need to purchase another car seat to accommodate his or her size.

Uppababy Mesa Infant Car Seat
Uppababy Mesa Infant Car Seat

Why Choose an Infant Seat?

Most infant car seats are a part of a travel system, which means that you can easily unlatch the seat and place it in a stroller. Transitioning the car seat to and from the car is easy, and the baby can sleep right through it.

Another advantage to infant  seats is that if the baby will be riding in multiple vehicles, you can buy several car seat bases, and the seat can be easily transferred to other cars. As parents know, moving actual car seats from car to car can be a pain; thankfully, infant car seats simplify the process.

Typically, infant seats feature a canopy to block the sun from the baby’s eyes. This is a feature that convertible car seats don’t offer.

What to Look for in an Infant Car Seat

If you decide on an infant car seat, here are some factor to consider before purchasing one:

Easy Installation

Most infant car seats can be easily installed using the LATCH system, which is an easier way to secure the car seat using built-in anchors and tethers. Read reviews on the ease of installation on the car seat before you buy it to ensure that the installation is simple and secure.

Safety Features

Some infant car seats come with built-in leveling to indicate that they have been installed correctly. Some include additional shock absorption and padding. Look for infant car seats with added safety features.

Comfort

Obviously, you want your baby to be as comfortable as possible in his or her car seat. Some infant car seats offer extra comforts such as extra padding or snuggly head support. Also, the harness should be easily adjustable and not get in the child’s way.

Fits in your Vehicle

Infant car seats range in size and shape. Some are designed for larger cars and others for smaller cars. Make sure that the car seat you choose fits well into your vehicle.

Fabric

Let’s face it: babies are messy! Pick a fabric that is easy to detach from the seat and wash. Not all fabric is easily removed, so choose one that is.

Stroller Compatibility

Snapping an infant car seat into a stroller makes for a convenient transition. If this is something you want, look for a stroller and car seat together. These combinations are called travel systems.

Convertible Car Seats

Convertible car seats can be positioned rear-facing, front-facing, and then converted into a booster seat. The rear-facing position is for infants and toddlers, while the forward-facing position protects babies up to around 65 pounds.

Convertible seats are a more permanent attachment to your car. They are not easily moved after they are installed, so keep this in mind as you explore your options.

Graco Extend2fit
Photo : Graco Extend2fit Car Seat

Why Choose a Convertible Car Seat?

The biggest reason to choose a convertible car seat is cost. A convertible car seat adapts to the child for each transitional phase, so you will not need to buy another car seat.

The adaptability is, of course, a perk. Converting the seat to the next stage as your child grows is simple and convenient.

What to Look for in a Convertible Car Seat

Here are some factors to explore when shopping for a convertible car seat:

Easy Installation

All convertible car seats come with a top tether strap and lower anchor connectors to securely connect the seat.  Look for convertible car seats with easy installation reviews.

Safety Features

Convertible seats with steel-reinforced frames provide extra security. Five-point harnesses keep the child safe in the seat. Some convertible car seats also include extra layers of protection on the sides of the seat and anti-rebound bars to stabilize and reduce impact.

Comfort

Look for a convertible car seat that offers extra comfort for your child, such as extra cushioning. A comfortable harness also makes a big difference.

Fits in your Vehicle

In general, convertible car seats are larger than infant car seats, so they need more space. Make sure you have the space available for the convertible car seat to fit comfortably into the backseat.

Fabric

Pick a fabric that suits your taste, and remember that you will be cleaning it regularly. Choose one that is easily detachable, and you can toss it in the washing machine on a gentle cycle.

What’s the Bottom Line?

When it comes to picking the best car seat, the best choice is the best choice for you. If you want to save money, go with a convertible car seat. Convertible car seats double the lifespan of the seat, so you will never need another one.

If you like the easy access of snapping the car seat in and out of the car, go with the infant car seat. The accessibility is the biggest perk of an infant car seat.

The most crucial factor is that your baby is safe. Both types of car seat excel in protecting your child, so regardless of which one you buy, you have made the right choice.

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About Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore is an American college professor and freelance writer from North Carolina. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Master’s Degree in English Education. When she is not driving her teenage son to wrestling practice or learning the ins and outs of Fortnite from her younger son, she is working on her first book to be published soon.
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